Reports of loan modification rip-offs increasing | Attorney General’s Consumer Resource Center

Vianna Engel was determined to hold on to her home. “If I lose my property, my elderly mother loses her home, too,” Engel this week explained to a staff member at the Attorney General’s Office. Her mom’s single-wide mobile home sits on Engel’s property in Rochester. “She took care of me and I’m not going to let this happen to her.”

Vianna Engel was determined to hold on to her home. “If I lose my property, my elderly mother loses her home, too,” Engel this week explained to a staff member at the Attorney General’s Office. Her mom’s single-wide mobile home sits on Engel’s property in Rochester. “She took care of me and I’m not going to let this happen to her.”

But Engel fell behind on her mortgage payments after having major surgery and facing over $5000 in out-of-pocket expenses. She received a dreaded foreclosure notice. During the crisis, which Engel calls the worst thing she’s ever experienced, she also lost $2500 to a common scam: an offer to help modify her loan for an upfront fee.

“Offers of mortgage help for a fee exploit people in their darkest hours,” said Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna, whose office again today warned about these scams. “They convince people to pay a fee for something they can receive for free.”

McKenna warns consumers to be on the lookout for television and radio advertisements, flyers, mailings, e-mails and phone calls from those offering mortgage help for a fee. Scammers comb foreclosure filings, which are public records, for new victims. Often the offers come from companies with names that sound like law firms. Sometimes they offer “loan audits” in which they promise to examine your loan for legal claims you can use to stop a foreclosure.  However, these audits are often inaccurate and are never enough to stop a foreclosure. McKenna adds that such audits are no substitute for obtaining legal advice from a licensed attorney.

Representatives working at the Attorney General’s Consumer Resource Center are reporting an uptick in complaints about these scams, which they call “third party loan modification offers.” The Washington State Bar Association is also seeing an increase in the number of inquiries about firms or individuals, many from out of state, that claim to offer help with loan modifications. A common theme is that the homeowner loses $1500 to $3000 and no modification is granted.

Engel paid the $2500—in installments, since that’s all she could afford— to the Home Credit Law Center, which she had seen advertised on television. When she told the company that it would be tough for her to pay them, she says they implied it would be easier than she thought since she didn’t have to pay her mortgage for a few months. The company did not obtain a loan modification and her lender ended up tacking $10,000 in missed payments on to the principal of her loan. Fortunately, when Engel gave up working with the Home Credit Law Center, she was able to work out an arrangement with her bank and keep her home.

Instead of falling for third-party loan modification offers, McKenna suggests a much simpler idea: call the Washington Homeownership Information Hotline at 1-877-894-HOME. The hotline, funded in part by settlements reached between the Attorney General’s Office and mortgage lenders, along with the State Department of Financial Institutions, connects borrowers to free counselors and, in some cases, pro-bono attorneys. He also requests that those who have been victimized by a loan modification scam file a complaint with his office. Information about how to file a complaint may be found atwww.atg.wa.gov.

 


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@courierherald.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.courierherald.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 500 words or less.

More in Business

Don Brunell
E-waste reduction requires innovative approaches | Brunell

Less than 13 percent of electronics are recycled — the rest is dumped.

Don Brunell
Boeing’s good news | Brunell

Boeing’s revamped 737MAX to ready to return to service.

Venise Cunningham and Belinda Kelly celebrating the opening of their new restaurant and bar, the Simple Goodness Sisters Soda Shop in Wilkeson. Contributed photo
Simple Goodness Sisters Soda Shop opens in Wilkeson

There’s sodas for the kids, cocktails for the adults, and ice cream and sandwiches to round out the family-friendly vibe of the new shop.

Don Brunell
Coronavirus spurring air cargo growth | Brunell

Air cargo sector has retained 92 percent of its business during the pandemic.

Melisa Kahne makes all of her own products, which can be bought online or even at Nature's Inventory, another shop on Cole Street. Contributed photo
The business of beauty: how Kanary Naturals began

The story of how an entrepreneur had to completely change how she did business.

Don Brunell
Diversity in America’s military | Don Brunell

A history of integration on America’s military.

These are just a sample of Blaze Ward and Leah Cutter's many, many book series. The two Enumclaw authors also write non-fiction books about how to write and make it your business, and collaborate on a number of anthology magazines. Contributed images
Enumclaw authors explain how to write (and make money doing it)

Leah Cutter and Blaze Wars have always wanted to be writers and storytellers. And, thanks to independent publishing, are able to live off of their works.

Image courtesy Enumclaw Chamber of Commerce
Enumclaw Chamber launches new “Imbibe Tour”

The tour takes you across Enumclaw’s seven breweries and wineries.

Enumclaw businesses were able to apply for a $7,000 grant from the city of Enumclaw last September. It was recently discovered at least two businesses did apply, but their application was lost due to a technological error. Image courtesy the city of Enumclaw
More businesses get COVID funds

A tech error led to at least two local businesses’ grant application to the city of Enumclaw getting lost.

Don Brunell
Defunding the police is a bad idea | Brunell

Seattle now has one of the lowest ratios of cops to citizens of major U.S. cities.

Don Brunell
President uses rare order to break China’s hammerlock on critical metals | Brunell

The only American rare earth mine is located in California, but it has to be processed in Canada.

Mail Express was fined $7,500 by L&I. Photo by Ray Miller-Still
Local business fined by LI for failing to wear, enforce masks

The Mail Express Business Center was fined $7,500, the most of 11 businesses.